Conscientious objectors

Plan Would Protect Health-Care Workers Who Object to Abortion:

The Bush administration. . . announced plans to implement a controversial regulation designed to protect doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who object to abortion from being forced to deliver services that violate their personal beliefs.

The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors’ offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds.

“People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “Health-care workers should not be forced to provide services that violate their violates their own conscience.”

The proposed regulation, which could go into effect after a 30-day comment period, was welcomed by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others as necessary to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways. Women’s health advocates, family planning advocates, abortion rights activists and others, however, condemned the regulation, saying it could create sweeping obstacles to a variety of health services, including abortion, family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research.

What to watch for at the Democratic Convention

Will you watch the political conventions? They used to be working groups, passing resolutions, forming coalitions, and making meaningful votes on the candidates. Now they have become just coronations and propaganda forums. There used to at least be the suspense of who the Vice Presidential nominee would be, but now even that is pre-decided. Still, I have the habit, engrained from childhood, of tuning in.

Here is a useful guide to the mini-dramas that will unfold at theDemocratic convention that opens today.

The Chronological Bible

The publishing house Thomas Nelson is coming out with The Chronological Study Bible, which not re-arranges not only the books but their passages (including the Psalms) to put everything in chronological order.

My impression is that even conservative Bible scholars are not fully agreed on when the different books of the Bible were written. In any event, looking at it from a literary perspective, this would seem to break up the unity of particular books. But do you see a value in this? And, theologically, is there a significance to the order of the canon?

The problems with Biden

The challenges Barack Obama will find in campaigning with his vice-presidential pick are detailed here. Briefly, there is his track record of plagiarism; his tendency to bloviate; and his almost humorously proclivity for gaffes (praising Obama as a black man who is “clean”; bragging about how high his IQ is; etc.).

Socialist fantasy

I did catch some of the closing ceremony. Just as China seems to have forged a new kind of communism, it seems to have forged a new kind of communist artistic style. Before, the only style allowed in Marxist regimes was socialist realism. Now we seem to have socialist fantasy.

Socialist realism had to consist of character types, with evil capitalists and a ridiculous and sinister middle class (still a Hollywood staple!), opposed by muscular workers and large groups of the noble proletariat. Based on what I saw at both the Olympic ceremonies, which would have to have been party-approved, this new style still rejects individualism, which would still be bourgeois and counter-revolutionary, and is highly collective.

We still see nothing but groups and individuals, all alike, taking their place in the groups. But this socialist fantasy–as we see in those lit up figures flying around–is fanciful and future-oriented. It is built around mass unity, rather than class conflict. It emphasizes wealth to the point of conspicuous consumption, though it is national wealth rather than anything that belongs to individuals.

This kind of communism, I suspect, will prove far more formidable–and appealing–than the old.

Olympics post-mortem

Here is an incomplete, sometimes tongue-in-cheek list of highs and lows at the Beijing Olympics. Do you have any final thoughts as they pass into history?